Education equips Ethiopian leader to serve

A Renewal 2027 testimony

September 19, 2018 | Web First
Karla Braun | Mennonite World Conference
Distance education director Tigist Alamirew, standing, with students in class at Meserete Kristos College in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of Tigist Alamirew)

“With the grace of God, I escaped many deaths throughout my journey in Christ,” says Tigist Alamirew. Born to an Orthodox family in Finote Selam, she now serves as distance education director at Meserete Kristos College in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.

“While I was a teenager, one of my friends witnessed to me about the love of Jesus. My heart was opened, and I received Christ as my personal Saviour,” she says.

Displeased with her “new religion,” her parents chased Alamirew from their home. Her aunt led a community effort to scare the “demon” from her. They beat her with rubber and burned her face, arms and legs in a fire.

“During that time, I saw a vision of Jesus Christ’s suffering, and I did not feel the beating,” she says. “When I saw Jesus rise up from his burial, I jumped up rejoicing, and said, ‘Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is risen!’”

Meserete Kristos Church brought Alamirew to Addis Ababa, where they helped pay for her medical treatment. She got a job in the church office. Generous donors helped her go to the United States for plastic surgery to remove the scars on her face.

“I never thought of revenge for my perpetrators,” she says. “I have fasted and prayed for them, hoping that they would come to know the love of Jesus Christ.”

“My goal is to reach unreached relatives and build a church,” she says. “Sixteen years ago, I started a fellowship with just three family members who received Christ as their Saviour. Now this fellowship has more than 20 members.”

It’s time
As a new Christian, Alamirew dedicated herself to God’s service. Daily, she prayed and read Scripture. “God kept speaking to me: ‘My child, I need you. It’s time to get ready for ministry.’ Looking at my busy schedule of ministry, I replied, ‘Lord, don’t you know that I am serving you?’”

She transferred to work for MK College as a secretary, cashier and librarian. As she related with the students and teachers, she says, “The voice of the Lord came to me again: ‘Time to get ready,’ and something burned in me.”

She began with evening classes in theology. With financial aid from an American couple, she was able to take a year of absence to finish her degree. Theology was only the beginning.

“Ministry should be holistic,” she says. “Since we serve the whole being, we have to address the wholeness of humankind.” To that end, Alamirew earned a second degree in community development.

Inspirational learning
People warned Alamirew that studying theology would lead to “a spiritual cemetery,” but she says that for her, “Every class session was devotional and inspirational. My studies do not make me dry; instead, they give clarity to discern truth from untruth.”

Education has been a gift “not only my church ministry, but also my spiritual life and work,” she says. “I encourage those who would live and serve Christ to study with expectation and commitment. Instructors should equip students to be passionately committed, Christ-like servants through their own exemplary life.”

At the graduation ceremony in May, MK College dedicated the nearly completed new dormitory building for up to 258 female students. The modern facility includes lounges, kitchenettes and a large meeting room.

“The completion of the women’s dorm gives me great joy, because more women leaders and ministers will get a chance to study,” says Alamirew, adding, “I express my gratitude to God and those who invested in me. All the glory to almighty God.”

Renewal 2027 is a 10-year series of events to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This series highlights leaders in the movement from history to the present.

For more on the Meserete Kristos College and Church, see: 
Ethiopian Meserete Kristos Church continues to grow 
Dormitory to create equal opportunity for women 
They can’t keep up 


Distance education director Tigist Alamirew, standing, with students in class at Meserete Kristos College in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of Tigist Alamirew)

Distance education director Tigist Alamirew at her desk at Meserete Kristos College in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of Tigist Alamirew)

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